Materials Management Education

The Indian Association of Materials Management began conducting the graduate diploma course in materials management (two years for part time students, and three years for distance education students) in 1980. It was recognized by the Ministry of Education, Union Government for recruitment to superior posts. Indian Association of Materials Management on entering the academic field converted itself to Indian Institute of Materials Management (IIMM) in April 1983. IIMM also conducts one year studentship Course in MM. The IIMM has 26 branches.

There are a negligible percentage of girls doing an MM course. But abroad, there are 20-25 per cent women in materials management.

Till 1987, about 1100 students have passed out from the IIMM. The IIMM is affiliated to the International Federation of Purchasing and Materials Management (IFPMM) which has 60,000 members.

The IIMM also conducts a national convention of materials managers every year. It organizes MDP’s to upgrade the knowledge of practicing managers.

Mr Madhav Capoor was the first Indian and the first Asian to hold the office of the President of the International Federation of Purchasing and Materials Management. Mr Capoor is an ex Dunlop executive. It shows the recognition of Indian professionals.

Materials management consultancy is a paying field; a good consultant averages a billing of Rs 25 to Rs 40 thousand per month. There are about 200 materials management consultants in India.

Annamalai University, Annamalainagar and Punjabi University, Patiala also offer correspondence courses in Materials Management.

Caselet: Professionalization of purchasing in the UK

Purchasing is no longer considered as the order clerk function. It is now a major corporate function. In the UK the Institute of Purchasing and Supply (IPS) has been set up to create professional materials and purchase managers. The courses offered by IPS are not only run in the UK, but in colleges and polytechnics in more than 50 countries of the world. Each year almost 5000 students outsider Britain take the IPS papers, which are returned to the institute for assessment. The course has foundation and professional stages, each consisting of six subjects. At the foundation stage, the subjects are economics, statistics, management principles and administration, and an introduction to purchasing and supply. At the professional stage, five core subjects and one elective subject are offered. The core subjects are purchasing practice and techniques, stores management and inventory control or retail merchandise management, purchasing and supply management a research study and a case study.

The four alternative elective subjects are: materials and production planning and control, contract procedures and techniques, marketing and structure, planning and control in the public sector.

Students need to learn about specifications and quality assurance, supply markets and sourcing pricing and payments, purchasing practice and methods, contractual aspects, inventory control of goods and materials, management of resources, movement and distribution of goods and materials, the role of purchasing and supply in corporate management, and management of the supplies function.

Formal examinations are used to assess acquired knowledge levels, but in recent years IPS has also developed assessment procedures to ensure students can demonstrate their ability to undertake management style exercises within a simulated environment.

Useful studies:

A case study to students four weeks in advance of the examination, during which they work on it and their ability to identify problems is formally tested. Professional bodies depend for their continued reputation on the credibility of their assessment methods, and the IPS feels the case study significantly contributed in this respect.

The average IPS professional course is offered on a part time basis, attracting students from among employees in local companies and organizations. A relatively small number of students takes full time courses before entering employment, but the traditional pattern in Britain has been that students are encouraged to attend colleges while gaining their professional knowledge at their place of employment.

Although this makes considerable demands on students, it incorporates the vital ingredient of practical experience to support theoretical knowledge.

Continuing Training:

The IPS program of education and training is not restricted to qualification courses. The institute strongly believes post qualification training is also of the utmost value, and its practical courses have been devised partly to meet the need for updating on current developments. Courses ranging from one to five days are available at several centers throughout the United Kingdom, strongly supported by a number of major commercial companies.

Professional education does not stand still. IPS syllabuses are constantly being reviewed, and discussions take place frequently among members on what core disciplines are required or a purchasing and supply professional, how specialized should such professionals aim to be, what is the role of in-house training and whether degrees can be satisfactorily developed within the purchasing and supply function.

The last is unlikely but 12 universities in the UK and several polytechnics are now incorporating elements of purchasing, supply, materials management and inventory control within degree courses.

Purchasing and supply studies have clearly established themselves as a part of the higher education scene, and the profession itself can surely look forward to a bright future in a world likely to be dominated by shortages of materials.